Don't repeat Verwoerd's mistake of not trusting people to own their own land - panelist
With land expropriation on the cards, and many stakeholders already buying into the process, the big challenge will be turning expropriated land into productive businesses that contribute to the economy, experts said about the topic during a Nation in Conversation panel discussion.
In other words, "how not to turn live capital into dead capital", as Russel du Preez, chief investment officer of the RusselStone Group, explained on Tuesday at the Nampo Harvest Day in Bothaville.
"We have to ask what the goal of society is and learn from history," he said. "It was Verwoerd who said that we can't trust the people to own their own land. Now we want to make the same mistake again. We can't live without title deeds if we want to solve poverty through agriculture.
"If we look at the research, there is a linear line between food security and titled deeds. It's plain and simple, you can't take live capital and make it dead. By giving people title deeds to the land, you unlock huge capital for the country."
Learning from other countries
Part of the discussion revolved around the lessons South Africa could learn from land reform in other African countries, such as Namibia and Zimbabwe, where different policy routes were followed.
In Namibia, the government instituted a policy where it had the first right of refusal on any farm that went on the market.
"There was a big shift of land to previously disadvantaged people and the policy worked well. But large, commercial farms are now unproductive, because nobody thought about the next phase," explained Raphael Karuaihe, a commodity derivatives manager at the JSE. The new farmers did not receive the title deeds to the land and had to lease it from the state.